So, with the many discussions of Priesthood and women, I've been thinking about the motherhood=priesthood idea. I find one major problem with it. LDS 'motherhood' isn't restrictive enough to afford it the same prestige that LDS priesthood enjoys. Let me explain:
There are countless men in the world who call themselves priests and claim to have the priesthood. We have no trouble dismissing them and their authority as false. They don't have the *real* priesthood like we do. Though their authority may be false, they are still responsible for large amounts of good. They still bring many people closer to Christ than they might otherwise have been. They still do great deeds of charity. There are some who abuse their power, but most are basically good people doing good work. However, despite the goodness of the work they do, it's still not done with proper authority, and many of their ordinances (baptism, sacrament/eucharist) will be ineffective.
Say we create a title for women, let's say "Priestess" for the sake of arguement. A woman becomes a priestess when she gets sealed in the Temple, and only when she is sealed in the Temple, because only then does she have the authority to enter into the 'true order of motherhood.'
Let's say that, as with the Priesthood, there are countless numbers of women out there who are mothers. They do great amounts of good, and bring many people into the world. They work hard, but since they are not sealed to their spouse and children their motherhood is ulitmately ineffective and will end at death. Only when one is sealed are they able to be true mothers in the way God intended. We have been using the term that describes the physical act of a woman spawning a child to describe a woman's God given spiritual duty to her children. By not recognizing the extra efforts LDS women go through to raise their children in a family and in the church we are effectively making the motherhood we seek to revere no more important than the motherhood of any woman in the world. So, since true motherhood is so important to our church why should they not recieve special recognition for their struggle to achieve and maintain Temple worthiness, and their efforts as *ordained and set apart* custodians of God's children.
A few points about how this relates to the motherhood=priesthood idea:
-It solves the common problem that a bad mother is still technically a mother. The irresponsible woman who gets pregnant and neglects her child is not a "Priestess" because she has not been sealed, and therefore has not been given authority to 'exercise' her motherhood. She is no different than a man claiming to have the priesthood who is not properly ordained.
-Since the title is given at the sealing it would (theoretically) prevent the ostracizing of non-fertile couples. A sealed woman without children is authorised to exercise her motherhood, but has not been given an opportunity to do so. She is still a Priestess.
-It does not help with the ostracizing of single women.
-It would further ostracize women married to non-member men. It could also potentially alter the way we view the Law of Chastity in regards to legal marriages. (If we start teaching that it is improper to have children outside of a temple marriage then it would follow that marital relations would have to be limited to a temple marriage too, which is perhaps why we don't have rhetoric like this.)
-It helps set the LDS definition of 'motherhood' above its purely physical roots. Being a Priestess is something one gains through worthiness, being a mother is a physical act. This way we don't have to twist ourselves into knots trying to make 'motherhood' mean something that the dictionary never will say it means. We can come right out and say, "We don't value motherhood, we value Priestesshood. We want you to be worthy righteous women who have become mothers in the proper way."
-It could either help, or exacerbate the mommy wars. It could help by taking the focus away from making dinner, sewing clothes, staying at home, etc, and moving the focus to the mother's spiritual worthiness and her efforts to instill testimonies in her children. It could hurt it by putting extra emphasis on making dinner etc and staying at home by viewing those things themselves as spiritual actions. Things associated with traditional motherhood become a Priestess' ordinances. For example 'Dinner on the table at 6' becomes a sacrament which will be asked about in worthiness interviews.
Making 'mother' a church office (like Elder) would do much to bolster the idea that motherhood=priesthood. It could have many positive consequences, and many negetive ones. Either way, as things stand, our current rhetoric about motherhood does little to convince me that it is the woman's equivalent of the priesthood.